Cooperation through War: Late Intermediate Period Warfare and Community Formation in the South-Central Andes
Kohut, Lauren Elizabeth
This dissertation examines how warfare engendered new forms of sociality and mediated political relationships during the Late Intermediate Period (AD 1000-1450) in the Colca Valley of the southern Peruvian highlands. I argue that this context of pervasive warfare facilitated the formation of cooperative relationships at multiple scales—from settlement-level defenses to regional alliances—and consider how this cooperation in war provided a foundation for the articulation of new community identities and horizontal political relationships. This period in the highland Andes has been understood as a time of regional fragmentation and political decentralization, perpetuated by long-term internecine conflict. At the same time, new social identities and political relationships emerged at the local scale. To understand these dynamics of fragmentation and coalescence, I examine how warfare shaped relationships between households and settlements through a multi-scalar examination of hilltop fortifications in the Colca Valley. Specifically, I present data from: (1) regional-scale documentation of defensive sites and their spatial distribution; (2) site-level analysis of settlement patterns and artifact distributions. The results indicate that conflict provided an important context for the development of cooperative relationships at multiple scales. At the local level, households collaborated in the construction of large scale defensive architecture. Defensive concerns further drew individuals from across multiple settlements into broader networks of mutual obligation—linking them through both corporate labor projects and local defensive alliances. At a regional scale, surveillance of key access points into and out of the valley and dense visual connections indicate broader networks of alliances. I show how these relationships, while built on shared defensive concerns, were also actively cultivated and maintained through commensalism, commemoration and production, and provided a basis for emergent self-organization and collective action that was not dependent upon and did not result in political centralization or hierarchization. This dissertation contributes to broad anthropological concerns regarding the social and political consequences of war, by drawing attention to the importance of understanding war as both destructive and generative.